When I'm at my local library or bookstore, you can most often find me in the cookbook section. Shocker, I know. When I pore over a cookbook, I'm looking for more than just recipe inspiration. I'm taking in the food photography and styling. I'm soaking up the design details like the fonts and colors. I'm listening to the author's voice and seeing if it resonates with my own. I'm familiarizing myself with the weight of the paper, the texture of it, the way it smells when the book is opened.
The cookbooks I own are full of dog-ears in the corners, splatters on the covers and notes on the pages, marking ideas to which I hope to return. The books I borrow, on the other hand, are filled with removable tabs, Post-it notes and bookmarks.
This is a recipe I bookmarked in a new cookbook I borrowed from the Soldotna Library -- "Food 52 Vegan." The authors declared this five-minute, no-bake homemade granola bar recipe to be one of their most popular by far. I was thoroughly convinced to try it for myself, having not tried a new granola bar recipe in a few years. I had a fantastic jar of Trader Joe's almond butter my aunt sent in a care package from California that I had been wanting to use. This recipe calls for peanut butter or almond butter, so I eagerly grabbed my jar of almond butter and got started. For my nuts and dried fruit, I selected cranberries and sliced almonds.
They turned out beautifully -- quick, simple and adaptable. I can see why this granola bar recipe is a favorite.
Granola bars with almond butter and dried cranberries
Makes about 9 square bars
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup almond butter
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil and set aside. In a mixing bowl, stir together the oats, nuts and cranberries. In another smaller bowl, stir together the almond butter, agave nectar and salt until smooth and combined. Pour the mixture into the oats and stir until everything is completely coated.
2. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Using another sheet of foil, press the granola bars down firmly into the pan. Freeze the pan for at least two hours before lifting out the foil and cutting into bars. Cut into nine squares using a sharp knife. Wrap the bars individually and store in the refrigerator. Adapted from the Food 52 Vegan's Five-Minute No-Bake Granola Bars recipe.
Maya Wilson lives in Kenai and blogs about food at alaskafromscratch.com. Have a food question or recipe request? Email email@example.com and your inquiry may appear in a future column.